An illegal gold mine in Indonesia’s Sulawesi island collapsed Wednesday. About 22 people were trapped in the rubble when the mine in Central Sulawesi province’s Parigi Moutong district collapsed due to unstable soil. Six people were killed and another one is missing. The searchand rescue efforts efforts were hampered by the remote location of the mine and the unstable soil that risked further slides. Illegal or informal mining operations are commonplace in Indonesia and many people labor in conditions with a high risk of serious injury or death. Landslides, flooding and collapses of tunnels are just some of the hazards in such mining.
A study by the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development found the number of people engaged in such mining had risen to over 40 million, up from 30 million in 2014 and 6 million in 1993. As gold production costs in the world began to exceed profits from sales, a decrease in global gold production emerged in the period 2001 to 2008, which subsequently resulted in higher demand and an increasing gold price. For mining industries this was an incentive to start boosting gold production again after 2008. Currently, Indonesia produces around four percent of global gold production, half of which originates from the giant Grasberg mine, the world largest gold mine, on the western half of Papua. This mine, which is believed to contain the world’s largest gold reserves (67.4 million ounces).